At long last, Disney's mega hit, THE LION KING, arrives on DVD Oct. 7, 2003 (Walt Disney Home Entertainment, $29.99) in a special edition worthy of the phenomenon. For starters, the two-disc set contains gorgeous transfers of both the theatrical release and the extended edition featuring the Elton John/Tim Rice song from the play, "Morning Report," digitally cleaned and enhanced in painstaking fashion by the original filmmakers from Feature Animation.
Geographical Region: Africa
Antefilms Production has announced that it has acquired France Animation, which was previously a Wanadoo subsidiary. Each company will retain its individual identity, but the deal will allow France Animation to ramp up its production line and merges two of Europes largest animation libraries of more than 1,600 half-hours. As part of the deal, Antefilms gains France Animations established marketing and licensing prowess.
Fox Kids Europe (FKE) is taking 144 half-hour episodes of fresh programming to MIPCOM, including three new kids properties, SONIC X, TUTENSTEIN and SHAMAN KING.
FKE has acquired all TV and home video rights for the world, excluding North America and Asia, for 52 half-hour episodes of SONIC X from TMS Entertainment Ltd. This marks the first animated adaptation of the videogame and TV series hedgehog hero to be created in Japan, (DIC Ent. did the first animated TV series in the U.S.).
The Indigo Group will venture to Cannes with four new projects in tow for MIPCOM. The new projects include TOBY THE PRINCE OF WHALES, TINGUARO, BRADYS BEASTS and FREDDIE THE FROG.
Buena Vista International Television (BVITV) has promoted three members of its London, Munich and Rome-based programming sales teams.
Carsten Fink, based in Munich, has been promoted from director of sales to exec director, sales, German-speaking markets. Carsten Fink joined BVITV in 2000 from United Distributors, where he was an international sales manager. Fink leads German-speaking sales for such territories as Germany, Austria and Switzerland and reports to BVITVs vp of sales, Alison Homewood.
The U.K.s Toonami channel, dedicated to action/adventure/anime animation, has landed STAR WARS: CLONE WARS. The new 2D series from Lucasfilm and Cartoon Network Studios chronicles the adventures of the STAR WARS heroes during the events that directly follow EPISODE II. The third Cartoon Network channel in Europe, Toonami, started broadcasting on September 8, 2003 and will begin airing CLONES on November 10. Cartoon Network will debut the new show in the U.S. on November 7. SAMURAI JACK and DEXTER'S LABORATORY creator Genndy Tartakovsky is the lead animator on the series.
In light of Morgan Creek's firing of director Paul Schrader from EXORCIST: THE BEGINNING (the production company disliked his final cut), famed novelist Caleb Carr (THE ALIENIST), who shares screenplay credit with William Wisher, gave his perspective to VFXWorld:
Celebrated writer-director Paul Schrader has been dismissed from EXORCIST: THE BEGINNING over a creative dispute with production company Morgan Creek. Reports of friction have been rampant for weeks, with the NEW YORK POST affirming that Schrader was fired in its Page Six column on Aug. 25, 2003. Warner Bros., which will distribute the prequel to the legendary horror classic, deferred inquiries to Morgan Creek, and a spokesperson there was unavailable for comment.
Finn Arnesen has been promoted from programming development chief of Cartoon Network Europe to head program production for Cartoon Network International with responsibility for all areas outside the U.S. The CN exec will be kept exceptionally busy with Cartoon Networks recent commitment of more than $500 million over five years (2003-2007) to produce original animated programming.
KING OF THE HILL has shown it is one of the top cats of primetime animation, receiving an early pickup from Fox Broadcasting Co. for a ninth season, guaranteeing the Texas toon a run through May 2005. The series, which airs Sundays in the U.S. at 7:30 pm on FOX, is in production on the 2003-2004 season, which premieres later this fall.
POW! Entertainment and DIC Entertainment have signed a joint venture development deal for a slate of original properties aimed at the kids TV market. DIC will work directly with Stan Lee and POW! to develop and produce the new animated television series. DIC will retain the rights to distribute the programs globally. First in line will be STAN LEES THE SECRET OF THE SUPER SIX -- a superhero-based animated series with a humanitarian spin that will feature Lee as a main character.
Keith LeGoy, svp of sales, Europe, at Sony Pictures Television International (SPTI), was promoted to md, Latin America, relocating from London to Miami. Dorien Sutherland, who held the post at SPTI since March 1994, has left the company to pursue other interests and consulted to SPTI during the transition period.
Michael Grindon, president of SPTI, said LeGoy's most recent efforts, "have led to significant improvements in our licensing business in Europe, the Middle East and Africa, and he is well prepared to assume this new leadership role."
Digital effects and design studio Ring of Fire brought out the beast in the average household cat in a captivating spot for Whiskas in a clever mix of stock footage and live-action, with a few CG tricks to make viewers believe that the family feline was running down a huge water buffalo on the African veldt in a wildlife documentary.
The CNX daytime anime programming block, Toonami, has become so popular in Europe that the third kid's animation channel from the Cartoon Network stable will be rebranding under that name in September 2003.
The Toonami concept began as a programming block on Cartoon Network and was then expanded into the daytime hours on CNX. Shows like DRAGONBALL Z and X-MEN: EVOLUTION have consistently been amongst the highest rated cartoons with boys 10 to 15, the target audience for the new channel.
Walt Disney Television International promoted Michael Kreissl from managing director of Disney Channel Germany to vp, programming and production of WDTV-I, Europe, Middle East and Africa. Kreisel will continue his position with the German channel and will oversee planning of the programming schedules and production for eight Disney channels (France, Spain, Germany, Portugal, Scandinavia, U.K. and Middle East) in addition to 42 Disney branded blocks across 32 countries. Kreissl reports to John Hardie, svp and managing director of Walt Disney Branded TV, Europe, Middle East and Africa.
Only two days after its North American TV broadcast, WALKING WITH CAVEMEN hits the DVD shelves on June 17, 2003 (BBC Video, $19.99). The Discovery Channel/BBC co-production breaks the mold of DINOSAURS and PREHISTORIC BEASTS by combining CGI, animatronics and actors dressed in prosthetics in recreating our earliest ancestors.
In its continuing effort to embrace more commercial event films (with the cooperation of the CAA talent agency), IMAX will release Warner Bros.' THE MATRIX RELOADED in select theaters on Friday, June 6, 2003, and, for the first time, in various international venues through early July (including the U.K., Germany, Russia, Singapore, South Africa and Japan). The timing couldn't be better, as the second mind-bending film in the Wachowski Brothers' trilogy recently set a new international box office record in its opening weekend (more than $113M).
Mythic Entertainment, developer and publisher of online gaming, have announced a new expansion to their online game, DARK AGE OF CAMELOT entitled TRIALS OF ATLANTIS. The program is scheduled for release in the fourth quarter of 2003.
"Once again Mythic is extending the world of DARK AGE OF CAMELOT," said Mark Jacobs, president/ceo, Mythic Entertainment. "Fans will be excited by the new quests, new races and Master Level system, not to mention our new graphic engine that will deliver sophisticated underwater and improved above ground visuals."
DIC Entertainment recently inked deals with leading networks for international distribution for shows including SUPER DUPER SUMOS, MADELINE, MARY-KATE AND ASHLEY: IN ACTION and SHERLOCK HOLMES IN THE 22ND CENTURY. "MIP-TV was a success for us, even considering the state of the world at the time," said Pat Ryan, evp of international sales.
Buena Vista International Television (BVITV) has appointed Philippe Maigret svp of portfolio development. Maigret will be based in London and report directly to by Tom Toumazis, svp/md, BVITV EMEA (Europe, Middle East and Africa). Maigret is charged with implementing an acquisition and co-production strategy and focus on closer liaisoning with all internal and third party producer groups including Walt Disney Studios, Miramax, Touchstone Television and ABC Cable Network Groups as well as TV Animation.
The UK's Entertainment Rights has chalked up a number of recent licenses for its kids properties resulting from MIP-TV, in Europe and in North America, via its New York City office. The NYC office has placed several shows with U.S. and Canadian networks. Discovery's Hispanic channel has acquired CGI preschooler CUBEEZ for a 2003 launch and HAMILTON MATTRESS has been sold to HBO while TeleQuebec in Canada has taken PRESTON PIG, SHORT CUTS and MERLIN THE MAGICAL PUPPY. ER's new boy action series TRANSFORMERS ARMADA debuted well on Carton Network in the U.S.
Take the animated adventures of a family of wildlife documentary filmmakers out in Africa home by way of Paramount Home Entertainment's release of THE WILD THORNBERRYS MOVIE on DVD and home video. The movie, produced by Klasky Csupo and Nickelodeon Movies, based upon the hit TV series, features the Oscar-nominated song by Paul Simon, "Father and Daughter" as a music video.
France Animation, one of Europes leading production and distribution companies specializing in youth programming, has a number of MIP-TV 2003 offerings for the teen and pre-school markets. COSY CORNER is a preschool series (52x6 or 13x26) that features a host of soft, cuddly CGI animated animal characters with strong merchandising potential. It tells the story of a group of Stella, Margot, Arthur and Jacky, who have been thrown together by chance. Living as neighbors in a huge tree, called COSY CORNER, they soon discover that it isnt always easy to get along and put up with each other! Produced by French production company Storimages and co-produced by France 5 and Teletoon France, France Animation has worldwide distribution rights. Also on France Animations MIP-TV 2003 slate, is the second season of hit show WHEEL SQUAD 2 (13x26) which completes the series of 39 episodes. WHEEL SQUAD combines wheel sports, rap, hip-hop and techno for older children. Is a co-production between France Animation, M6, Praxinos, Colorland, RAI and for series one Canal + Belgique. The show can already be seen on the Disney Channel in Asia, Hong Kong and the Middle East, and in Latin America (Fox Kids), Spain (Antena 3), The Netherlands (Kindernet), Portugal (SIC) and Poland amongst other territories. Concluding France Animations animated lineup is the well-known TITEUF (78x7 or 26x26), a successful property all over Europe based on the comic books by Swiss cartoonist Zep. Already a major hit on France 3, the series has already sold to broadcasters in Canada, Germany, Italy, Spain, Belgium, Greece, Turkey, North Africa, Switzerland, The Netherlands, Denmark, Norway, Poland, Korea, Ukraine, Singapore, Hong Kong, Israel, Indonesia, Malaysia, Morocco, Iceland, Japan, Korea, Ireland and the Middle East. In addition, TITEUF has inspired lucrative product ranges across a variety of markets with 250,000 GameBoy games sold by Infogrames in Europe alone and 250,000 video cassettes selling in the last 12 months through Universal Pictures Video France. Other merchandising available includes Lafuma school bags, a confectionery deal with Cadbury and a pan-European card deal with Hallmark. Various deals have also been struck with Hasbro, McDonalds, Danone and Kellogg's. TITEUF is a co-production between France Animation, Editions Glenat, Canal J, France 3 and SMEC, in partnership with RAI, Infogrames and Universal. France Animation also brings factual entertainment to MIP-TV with new completed episodes of the fascinating documentary series INSECTOSCOPE and live-action kids series CYBERGIRL. Maia Tubiana, managing director of France Animation said: "We are maintaining our strategy of seeking quality properties for our catalog, partnering at the earliest possible stages on new projects and developing or co-developing series in formats varying from 5 to 26 minutes. We are also happy to announce that we have started production on PETIT VAMPIRE (working title LITTLE VAMPIRE) which we launched with our co-production partner Story at Cartoon Forum this year. The 52x13 series will be ready for delivery in 2004. PETIT VAMPIRE is a Story, France Animation, France 3 and Telegael co-production." Formed in 1984, France Animation (www.france-anim.com) is subsidiary of Wanadoo (France Télécom) and has a sales catalog with more than 1,200 half-hours sold in more than 100 countries.
Just in time for MIP TV 2003, international producer-distributor TV-Loonland has brought on Jamie Lynn as sales executive in its distribution division. Based in the London office, Lynn will be responsible for TV-Loonland's extensive rights portfolio of children's programming throughout Asia, Southern Europe, the Middle East and Africa. Lynn headed SSA Public Relations' London office for three years where he spearheaded several successful publicity campaigns for a wide range of high profile clients from the international television and film business and generated new business. David Ferguson, COO at TV-Loonland said," Lynn has developed vital and strong relationships with many top executives within the film, television and licensing industry. His acquired knowledge of the international television distribution business is highly valued and I look forward to working with him." TV-Loonland (www.tv-loonland.com) is an integrated media company producing and distributing internationally animation for children, youth and families. With its own development teams and production facilities in Europe, Great Britain, Asia and the U.S.A., a comprehensive rights catalog as well as a focused distribution effort for Europe, North and South America and Asia; TV-Loonland has become a world leader among the independent majors in the industry.
Umbrella organization European Broadcasting Union is coproducing an animated series PITT & KANTROP (26x26) with Millimages (France), using funding from nine EBU member broadcasters ARD (Germany), BBC (U.K.), France 2 and France 3, RAI (Italy), RTBF and VRT (Belgium), RTVE (Spain) and SRG-SSR (Switzerland). Targeted at kids 6-12, the toon features 13-year-old Pitt and his pterodactyl pet Kantrop, created by Isabeau Merle and Fethi Nedjari. The series is an off-beat modern comedy set in prehistoric times, which recounts the adventures of Pitt, and Kantrop, the last pterodactyl, as they try to bring progress to Pitt's tribe. Wolfgang Wegmann (ARD), Theresa Plummer-Andrews (BBC) and Babette Vimenet (France) are set to exec produce. Millimages Licenses, Millimages UK and Millimages USA will handle international distribution rights when the series launches in fall 2004. "We are confident that the series PITT & KANTROP will be another success for the EBU and its members in providing quality European programming to children across Europe," said Philippe Jacot, head of the EBU coproduction unit. Millimages, based in Paris (www.millimages.com), is one of the largest producers and distributors of animated programming with its own post production and stop-motion service studios. The Geneva-based EBU (www.ebu.ch) is the largest professional association of national broadcasters in the world. It serves 71 active members in 52 countries of Europe, North Africa and the Middle East and 45 associate members in 28 countries around the world. Working on behalf of its members, the EBU negotiates broadcasting rights for major sports events, operates the Eurovision and Euroradio networks, organizes program exchanges, stimulates and coordinates coproductions, and provides a full range of other operational, commercial, technical, legal and strategic services.